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Understanding the EYFS : A Guide for Parents

As parents, we want nothing more than to support our children's learning and development, especially during their early years. You may have heard about the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage), a framework that guides the education and care of children aged 0-5 in the UK. It's similar to the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework in the US, but with some differences.Many of us find ourselves wondering what the EYFS actually is and how it impacts our children's early education journey. In this article, we're here to demystify the EYFS and shed light on its importance in childcare settings. We'll also explore how parents can not only get a head start but also play an active role in supporting your child's learning at home. Rest assured, understanding and engaging with the EYFS is simpler than you might think!

Young baby engaging with adults

What is the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage)?

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a comprehensive framework designed to support the development, learning, and care of children from birth to five years old in the United Kingdom. It was developed by the Department for Education (DfE) in the UK, first introduced in 2008 and revised in 2012 and 2021. 

The framework sets standards for the learning, development, and care of children from birth to five years old. It sets out seven areas of learning and development, including communication and language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, literacy, mathematics, understanding the world, and expressive arts and design. Children develop skills and work towards these areas of learning through a combination of structured activities and free play

For younger children under 2, activities are often more exploratory and sensory-based, focusing on building foundational skills such as grasping and crawling. As children grow older, structured activities become more common, helping to develop specific skills and knowledge in preparation for school. Activities like playing on a climbing frame or using scissors contribute to physical development, while story time supports literacy skills.

Who uses the EYFS and how?

In childcare settings across the UK, including nurseries, preschools, childminders, and reception classes, every activity planned by caregivers relates back to the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This means that learning through play is always happening, whether it's structured activities or free play. Even during moments of free play, EYFS observations are completed to track each child's progress and tailor activities to their individual needs. These observations help caregivers identify areas where children may need extra support or encouragement. 

Early Learning Goals, a key aspect of the EYFS, are met through children's everyday activities. For example, a simple game of building blocks can contribute to achieving the goal of physical development as children strengthen their fine motor skills by grasping and stacking blocks. Similarly, social and emotional development goals can be met during group play activities, where children learn to take turns and share with their peers.

Child doing sensory play with dried foods, cups and trays

How parents can use the EYFS for baby development 

Supporting your baby's growth and development through the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is not only beneficial but can also be seamlessly integrated into your everyday activities. By incorporating EYFS principles into your parenting approach, you can provide the best care and support for your child's learning journey. Here are some examples of EYFS activities categorised by areas of learning:

Physical Development activities:

For babies under 1: Tummy Time, Grasping and Reaching

For toddlers over 1: Climbing on Play Equipment, Playing with Balls

Communication and Language activities:

For babies under 1: Talking and Singing to Baby, Listening to Different Sounds

For toddlers over 1: Engaging in Pretend Play, Telling Stories

Personal, Social, and Emotional Development activities:

For babies under 1: Cuddling and Bonding with Baby, Encouraging Independent Play

For toddlers over 1: Sharing Toys with Peers, Expressing Emotions Clearly

These activities not only contribute to your child's enjoyment and engagement but also support their development in various areas. As your child progresses and grows, you can adapt these activities to suit their changing needs and interests seamlessly, all while following the principles of the EYFS.

Tracking your babies milestones alongside the EYFS  

Child holding toy camera and example of the Onoco 'Learning Journey' feature

At Onoco, we understand the importance of tracking your baby's milestones and providing personalised care. With our 'learning journey’ feature, you can monitor your child's development from birth to 5 years old, aligned with the EYFS framework. You can also access tips for each area of learning, recommended by experts for your babies current age and development stage. 

Using Onoco, you can effortlessly track milestones, record observations, and create a personalised learning journey for your child. As well as childcarers and your family being able to access the learning journey, our user-friendly app also makes it easy to share information with caregivers and healthcare professionals, ensuring everyone is involved in your child's development.


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